Report by Vishnu Ravi Shankar. Images by Anukriti Bishen, with inputs from Gopalakrishnan R.
Hyderabad, 1st March 2016: The Gachibowli Indoor Stadium in the city witnessed Game 1 of the best-of-three UBA finale action today, with Chennai Slam starting off with a convincing 77-62 victory over Delhi Capitals.
Leading actor Rana Daggubati and Wing Commander Deepak Ahluwalia, Joint Secretary of the Services Sports Control Board were chief guests on the occasion.
Mr Ahluwalia, who is a former national level basketball player himself, heaped high praise on the UBA. “This is no less than international exposure, and let me tell you seeing this it is one step shorter than what an NBA match could be.”
“Thank you very much for having me here. It has been quite fun. This is my first experience of a live basketball game,” said the actor of Baahubali fame.
Chennai Slam bt Delhi Capitals 77-62 [Finals, Game 1]
The defending champions, Chennai Slam from the southern division, and north division victors Delhi Capitals were set for an epic north vs. south final series beginning with Game 1 today evening. Slam mixed up their starting lineup to begin the game with versatile forward Ramkumar inserted as the starting small forward for the team. Delhi stuck the to same starting lineup that has given them success this season which included MVP Vinay Kaushik.
Meeting for the first time this tournament, both teams were feeling each other out in the early going. In an even scoring first quarter, Delhi started off on an 8-2 run to begin the game. Delhi’s big men were aggressive on the offensive glass, creating second chance opportunities and putting the ball back in from the paint area. Capitals’ centre Ramesh was especially effective in the first period, working in the paint and getting into good position to drain easy layups. On the defensive end, the Delhi backcourt was up in the grill of the Chennai guards Agu and Cammy Carmel. Vinay Kaushik even had a huge chase-down block on Chennai forward Ashutosh in transition. However, the experienced Chennai side managed to do enough to stay in the race with Delhi, led by Agu’s strong penetration and finishing. Carmel hit an early triple followed by a transition bucket, while backup forward Vignesh Muralinath came off the bench and provided an athletic tip-in. Delhi went slightly ahead at the end of the first quarter 16 to 15.
In the second quarter, the champs came alive with forward Ashutosh Rai finding his touch from mid-range. Chennai kept feeding him in the low post and he drained his jumpers. Slam centre Gopal, who was relatively quiet in the first period, started to get going down low. Agu and Carmel peppered Chennai’s second quarter scoring with a triple each and Chennai ended up outscoring Delhi 25 to 9 in the second period.
Down 40-25 entering the second half, MVP Vinay Kaushik turned up the heat, knocking down shots from the inside and outside. Chennai’s perimeter defense failed to control his penetration in the third quarter, as Vinay finished strong on some acrobatic layups. But his scoring matched by the offense of Chennai centre Gopal Ram. He owned the quarter overpowering the Delhi frontcourt on his way to 22 points in the game, including 13 points in the third period alone. Chennai’s lead remained in double digits as the fourth quarter began with the Slam up 55-43. Delhi Coach Mukesh found the services of point guard Sachin Sharma below par, and young backup point guard Sunil Rathee was not able to step up in his absence.
Still within striking distance of Chennai, the Capitals were looking for a fourth quarter run to ignite them. But Chennai got the first strike in the fourth off another mid-range shot from Ashutosh. A slew of triples followed from Chennai as they began to blow the game wide open. Cammy and Agu had five triples between them in the game, while backup stretch forward hit a dagger 3-pointer midway through the final period. Delhi centre Ramesh (15 points) and forward Smithin Setu (10 points) kept fighting on the side, but there was not enough offense from the rest of his team. Late points by Gopal and Cammy sealed Game 1 for Chennai as they closed out on a 77-62 win. Gopal Ram picked up another player of the match award, adding to his impressive tally.
Chennai Slam (Gopal Ram 22pts, Chukwunanu Agu 17pts 10rbs 6asts 6stls, Cammy Carmel 17pts) bt Delhi Capitals (Ramesh 15pts, Vinay Kaushik 10pts 15rbs, Smithin Setu 10pts) 77-62 (15-16, 25-9, 15-18, 22-19)
About the UBA Pro Basketball League
The UBA Pro Basketball League is structured on a league cum knockout basis. Season 2 is being held in two phases: 18 to 28 Feb in Pune (Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex) followed by 23 March to 3 April in Hyderabad (Gachibowli Stadium). There are eight teams in total divided into two divisions: Pune Peshwas, Delhi Capitals, Haryana Gold, Punjab Steelers (North division) and Chennai Slam, Mumbai Challengers, Bengaluru Beast and Hyderabad Sky (South division). Chennai Slam won the inaugural season last year with Pune Peshwas finishing second.
About United Basketball Alliance India Pvt. Ltd.
The United Basketball Alliance (UBA India) is a next-generation sports branding company. Its main objective is to make sport brands mean something to their sport viewers. To do that, UBA helps brands connect with viewers by providing insight-driven ideas across all media platforms. With respect to its Pro Basketball League, UBA India has already secured primetime television broadcasting arrangements with the Ten Sports Network, and is securing corporate sponsorships for tournament play, and creating merchandising opportunities.